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Bryan Chapell tells this story that happened in his hometown: Two brothers were playing on the sandbanks by the river. One ran after another up a large mound of sand. Unfortunately, the mound was not solid, and their weight caused them to sink in quickly.
When the boys did not return home for dinner, the family and neighbors organized a search. They found the younger brother unconscious, with his head and shoulders sticking out above the sand. When they cleared the sand to his waist, he awakened. The searchers asked, "Where is your brother?"
The child replied, "I’m standing on his shoulders"
With the sacrifice of his own life, the older brother lifted the younger to safety. The tangible and sacrificial love of the older brother literally served as a foundation for the younger brother’s life.
Hebrews 2:10-12 and 14-16 describes Jesus Christ’s willingness to be like the older brother to us: "In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy [Jesus] and those who are made holy [Christians] are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers....
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he (Jesus) might destroy him (Satan) who holds the power of death and [that Jesus might] free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.... For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people."
Sermon Central Staff
Although at times it seems as though the church is in ruin and rubble, God sees it as a beautiful building.
Clinker bricks are bricks that did not quite make it. For some reason or another, they come out of the kiln misshapen or deformed. I read about a Presbyterian Church in New York State that was intentionally built of clinker bricks. Apparently, the congregation wanted to send a message, so they build their church of imperfect, rejected bricks. [“Clinker bricks and Ebenezers,” May 2, 1999, Exeter Congregational United Church of Christ Web Site, users.rcn.com.] The message is that we are all clinker bricks, we are sinners, we are imperfect people full of follies and foibles, but through Christ we become living stones in his church.
We do not become living stones because we are so great. It is Christ who is great. We are connected into his church through him.
(From a sermon by Larry Wise, Precious In His Sight, 2/24/2010)
The Train and the Boy
I would like to tell you a story about a man named John Griffith. John was the father of an 8-year-old boy during the 20’s and 30’s. John was very fortunate during those times, because he had job. John loved his son very much. He was the apple of his eye. John’s son was a normal little boy who constantly wanted to go to work with his father. John decided he would take his boy to work with him one day. John was bridge conductor across the Mississippi River. John was in charge of raising and lowering the bridge so that boats could get through and trains could pass. John’s son was so amazed at the gears and all the things that went along with his father’s job. They had brought their lunch to work with them that day and decided to eat their lunch on the bank of the river. John and his son was eating lunch and John had realized that in about 3 minutes the Memphis Belle carrying 300 passengers was getting ready to cross the bridge, but the bridge was not lowered. John didn’t want to alarm his son so he patted him on the shoulder and told him to sit right their and he would be right back. John hustled up the stairs, he grabbed the lever to lower the bridge and he had realized that somehow his son had climbed to the bridge and had fallen in between the gears of the bridge. John could hear the train coming carrying the 300 passengers. In his mind he started going over ways he could get his son from the gears and still lower the bridge, but he knew he had to make a choice. John lowered the bridge just in time for the train to pass crushing his son in between the gears. John looked at the train passing by and saw a man reading his newspaper a woman drinking her tea and another talking to his wife. John screamed at the top of his lungs “Hey, Don’t you know what I’ve just done for you” they didn’t hear him so he screamed again “Hey, Don’t you know what I’ve just done for you” But again they just went along with their lives not ever realizing what John had done for them. God is asking us the same question “Don’t you know what I’ve done for you. I sent my only son to this earth for you. He died a terrible death so that you could spend eternity with me. Why are you going on with your busy meaningless live not serving me, and some of you have not even accepted me as your savior. I love you so much.
Pursued by the Atoning Love
One evening a woman was driving home when she noticed a huge truck behind her that was driving uncomfortably close. She stepped on the gas to gain some distance from the truck, but when she sped up the truck did too. The faster she drove, the faster drove the truck.
Now scared, she exited the freeway. But the truck stayed with her. The woman then turned up a main street, hoping to lose her pursuer in traffic. But the truck ran a red light and continued the chase.
Reaching the point of panic, the woman whipped her car into a service station and bolted out of her auto screaming for help. The truck driver sprang from his truck and ran toward her car. Yanking the back door open, the driver pulled out a man hidden in the backseat.
The woman was running from the wrong person. From his high vantage point, the truck driver had spotted a would-be rapist in the woman’s car. The chase was not his effort to harm her but to save her even at the co...
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Max Lucado (as found in his ‘God’s Inspirational Promise Book’, but written for his book, ‘In the Eye of the Storm’), told this fictional story of an angel trying to find another way for salvation:
“He looked around the hill and foresaw a scene. Three figures hung on three crosses. Arms spread. Heads fallen forward. They moaned with the wind.
Men clad in religion stood off to one side…Arrogant, cocky.
Women clad in sorrow huddled at the foot of the hill…Faces tear streaked.
All heaven stood to fight. All nature rose to rescue. All eternity poise to protect. But the Creator gave no command. ‘It must be done…,” he said, and withdrew.
The angel spoke again. “It would be less painful…”
The Creator interrupted softly. “But it wouldn’t be love.”
SUSIE THE SAVIOR
The story is told of a certain 9-year-old who is sitting at his desk in school when all of a sudden there is a puddle between his feet, and the front of his pants are wet. He thinks his heart is going to stop, because he knows when the boys find out, he'll never hear the end of it. And when the girls find out, they'll never speak to him again as long as he lives.
The boy puts his head down and prays this prayer: "Dear God, this is an emergency! I need help now! Five minutes from now I'm dead meat." He looks up from his prayer, and here comes the teacher with a look in her eyes that says he's been discovered.
As the teacher is coming to snatch him up, a classmate named Susie is carrying a goldfish bowl filled with water. She stumbles and dumps the goldfish bowl in his lap. He pretends to be angry but prays, "Thank you, Jesus! I'm born again!"
Now, rather than being the object of ridicule, this kid is the object of sympathy. The teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym shorts to put on while his pants dry out. When he comes back to class, all the kids are on their hands and knees cleaning up around his desk. This sympathy is wonderful!
But as life would have it, the ridicule that should have been his has been transferred to Susie. She tries to help, but they tell her to get out: "You've done enough, you klutz!" As the day progresses, the sympathy gets better and better, and the ridicule gets worse and worse.
Finally, at the end of the day, they are waiting at the bus stop. The boy walks over to Susie and whispers, "Susie, you did that on purpose, didn't you?"
Susie whispers back, "I wet my pants once too."
D.L. MOODY: GOD LOVES SINNERS
D.L. Moody was a renowned American preacher back in the mid 1800’s. He went to England where he was introduced to a young preacher named Henry Moorehouse. During their short conversation, Moorehouse said he wanted to go to America.
Moody, trying to be polite, said that if he did go to America, he should look Moody up and Moody would let him preach in his church. Well, the day came when Moody received a telegram saying Moorehouse was in America and was planning on visiting Moody’s church.
Moody was going to be gone at that time, so he told his wife that he had to let Moorehouse preach once anyway. He told her to let him give one sermon and if everyone liked him, let him preach two.
Moody was gone for a week, and when he came back, he asked his wife how Moorehouse was at preaching. She said, "He’s much better than you, because he tells people that God loves sinners." Moody snapped back that God hates sinners. His wife said, "You can tell him tonight, because he is preaching again, for the sixth night in a row."
Moody did go to the church that night, but circumstances made him a little late. He thought he would sit through the sermon and then tell Moorehouse he had to leave. But by the end of the sermon, Moody’s heart had changed, and he said that was the first time in his life that he really understood the love God has for us. It was at the end of that sermon that the great and famous preacher, D.L. Moody, found himself with tear-filled eyes at his own altar, coming to know the full realm of Jesus for the very first time.
(From a sermon by Bruce Ball, "AND THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE" 2/15/2009)
The Directions Were Wrong
The doubleheader train was bucking a heavy snowstorm as its steam engines pulled it west. A woman with a baby wanted to leave the train at one of the little stations along the route. She repeatedly called, “Don’t forget me!” to the brakeman responsible to call out the stations they approached. Her husband was to meet her. The train slowed to a stop, and a fellow traveler said, “Here’s your station.” She hopped from the train into the storm. The train moved on again. Forty-five minutes later, the brakeman came in. “Where’s the woman?” “She got off at the last stop,” the traveler said. “Then she got off to her death,” the brakeman responded. “We stopped only because there was something the matter with the engine.” They called for volunteers to go back and search for the woman and child. When they found her hours later, not far from the track where they stopped, she was covered with ice and snow. The little boy was protected on her breast. She had followed the man’s directions, but they were wrong—dead wrong.
Ron Carlson, commenting on the story mentioned: Paul declares Christ is the one Mediator between man and God. Peter emphasizes there is no other name given und...
In 1962, missionaries named Don and Carol Richardson went to New Guinea to bring the Good News of Christ to a group of people known as the Sawi. The Sawi was a headhunting, cannibalistic tribe who used the skulls of their victims as pillows. He wrote a book about his experience called Peace Child. He began his work among the Sawi by reading through the Gospel of Matthew. But to his consternation when he got to the part of Judas betraying Christ, everyone cheered. He did not realize that their culture was one built around treachery.
The one who was the most devious was the one who had the most respect in their tribe. The missionary searched for every possible means to explain the greatness of God’s gift of truth and pure love to a people whose values were based on deceit. Then one day, he witnessed a solemn ceremony between two warring tribes. One of the chiefs walked over to the other and handed him a child. In fact, it was the chief’s own son. Their custom had been that peace could come between two tribes only if the chief of one of the tribes would give his son over to the people of the other tribe. He was called the “peace child.” The chief would place his own son in the hands of a people who hated him and had been his enemies. It was the only way to bring peace between them. Richardson saw in this act the perfect bridge to help these people understand what God had done.
God had given his “peace child” into the hands of a hostile world in order to bring the hostility between us to an end. The angels said at his birth: “Peace on earth, good will toward men.”
From a sermon by William D. Brown, "CHRISTMAS" 7/31/2008
When Jesus was tortured, it was the torture that should have been ours. On a very small scale, we all understand this principle. Imagine a young boy at the store counter. He is buying a small piece of candy. The clerk rings it up and it comes to 20¢.
He reaches in his pocket and pulls out a pile of change that fills his small hand and he begins counting, and the clerk helps.
* He has a nickel, that's 5¢.
* He has a dime, that's 10¢ more.
* He has three pennies
You are behind him and reach into your purse and contribute two more pennies to the pile. Everyone smiles. The boy gets what he wants, the clerk gets what he needs, and you have paid the price.
You got no candy, you had no drawer to count, and yet that boy's shortfall, for a moment, became your debt and you paid it. It was your effort and earnings that met the need. You had what he was missing, you provided what he could not.
Our sins require payment to the Judge who holds the balance. Jesus paid that price. Since the cost is an eternal cost, and since we are mortal, we could not pay it, but Jesus could and did.